For the past few months, I've been concerned about the plans to integrate
input methods directly into GNOME.
Not that I disagree with the goal (I am convinced that once this is done, it
will provide a much better user experience than what we have now), but there
are a few things that could make the life of Hong Kong GNOME users more
difficult (e.g the whitelist of supported input methods, the choice of IBus as
only Input Methods Framework,...).
flamewdiscussions on DDL, I had the
impression that two groups were talking past each other: the developers (mostly
non-Chinese) and the users of Chinese Input Methods (mostly non-developers).
Each group had different perspective and knowledge, and seemed to be talking
about different things:
You don't use Chinese input methods, so you don't know what we
You focus on a limited part of the User Experience, when we want to
provide a consistent, integrated, complete UX!
One thing is clear though: GNOME developers (and in fact FOSS developers,
but I'm mostly interested in GNOME these days) are mostly not Chinese, can't
read or write Chinese, and as such have a very limited idea of the complexity
of Chinese input methods. That's something we should change (by growing
stronger community of contributors in Chinese-speaking regions), but in the
meantime, Chinese users will depend on non-Chinese developers to provide their
So, after being tired of hearing from locals who won't do anything else than
complain, I decided to do something about it and start bridging that gap.
I spent the past two months (I started during GNOME.Asia in Hong Kong) studying Chinese input
methods, what they are, how they work, and how people use them in Hong Kong.
And as a result, I wrote a documentation about it,
which I hope can be useful to developers outside of China.
Keep in mind that I'm exactly one of those who don't use Chinese input
a French dude who moved to Hong Kong a year and a half ago and who can't
read or write Chinese. In fact, I even discovered about the very existence of
Chinese input methods a year ago, observing my girlfriend type on her
So of course I might have made mistakes, or missed crucial details. However,
having just recently learned all this, it was probably easier to write it down
in a way others like me could understand it: I didn't assume any previous
Early feedback from GNOME developers is overwhelmingly positive:
fcrozat: bochecha: congrats for
fcrozat: this is really good stuff
fcrozat: I wish we had that instead of the flames on ddl
aday: wow, this is fantastic indeed
However, some parts are still incomplete, and I'd love for people who know
more than me to proof-read it and fix any mistake I might have made. Here's the
link again, in case you missed it above:
Read it, and send me an email with your feedback (my email address is at the
bottom of the document).
One thing I would like to add to the document is information about the
situation in Taiwan and Mainland China, similar to what I wrote for Hong Kong.
So if you know about that, shoot me an email!
As a final note, GNOME developers expressed they would love to have the same
kind of documentation from other local communities and their specific needs
for, and usage of, input methods. So if you know about Indian, Thai or other
language specific input methods, just write about it! And we could even group
together the parts which make sense, as I'm sure some of the stuff I wrote is
generic enough to apply to other written languages (e.g sound-based vs
Hopefully, this will lead to an awesome user experience when it comes to
inputting complex languages on Free operating systems. At least I did my part
for Hong Kong people.